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Covid-19: Kilkeel testing centres open amid 'notable rise' in cases
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Covid-19: Kilkeel testing centres open amid 'notable rise' in cases

 

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Three testing centres have SLOT opened in Kilkeel, County Down, following a "notable increase" in Covid-19 cases,
the BBC has learned.

 

The authorities are concerned that the cases could be the so-called Indian variant, now named the Delta variant.

 

Testing is taking place at the town's leisure centre, St Louis Grammar School and a mobile testing unit at the GAA
car park on the Newcastle Road.

 

Asymptomatic people are also being asked to volunteer to be tested.

 

The Public Health Agency (PHA) said on Friday this was precautionary to identify cases and prevent spread.

 

It has also said early results from a small number of cases were "suggestive of the variant" but it was not confirmed.

 

Since the first week of May, a total of 26 cases have been confirmed across Northern Ireland.

 

Cases of the so-called Indian variant, now named the Delta variant by the World Health Organisation (WHO), were first
confirmed in Northern Ireland in early May.

 

Public Health England (PHE) said on Thursday that the Delta variant was now the dominant strain in the UK.

 

 

'Very small numbers in NI'

But in Northern Ireland, cases of the Delta variant have been "sporadic and episodic," according to Dr Stephen Bergin,
the PHA's interim director of public health.

 

"To date we've only seen very small numbers, 26 in total over those 30 days," he said on Friday.

 

"However, today in Kilkeel, we've noted that there may be a small number of probable cases - now I say probable
because they have to be confirmed in the laboratory.

 

 

'Taking it seriously'

South Down assembly member Sinead Ennis said the reports around the variant were concerning and encouraged
people to cooperate with the PHA.

 

"The Public Health Agency are encouraging asymptomatic people in the area to get tested to help stop any possible
spread," the Sinn Féin MLA said.

 

"I would ask people to follow the public health guidelines to keep themselves and others safe." 



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